This paper intends to give a philosophical analysis of the concepts of consciousness and rationality, and particularly to display the correlation existing between what is usually called the “normal state of consciousness” and what should be called the “normal state of rationality”. Eventually, it draws consequences for the correlation existing between “altered/aberrant states of consciousness” and “altered/aberrant rationality”. Although it argues from a broad phenomenological perspective, its grounding technicalities belong to the field of process thought, as fleshed out by the (...) later Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947). (shrink)
The Introduction highlights the three main themes of the book: (1) the ontological and epistemological status of everyday human consciousness, (2) the distribution of consciousness in the natural world, and (3) panpsychism. The individual contributions to the book are summarized and related literature is briefly discussed.
This collection opens a dialogue between process philosophy and contemporary consciousness studies. Approaching consciousness from diverse disciplinary perspectives—philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, neuropathology, psychotherapy, biology, animal ethology, and physics—the contributors offer empirical and philosophical support for a model of consciousness inspired by the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947). Whitehead’s model is developed in ways he could not have anticipated to show how it can advance current debates beyond well-known sticking points. This has trenchant consequences for epistemology and suggests fresh and (...) promising perspectives on such topics as the mind-body problem, the neurobiology of consciousness, animal consciousness, the evolution of consciousness, panpsychism, the unity of consciousness, epiphenomenalism, free will, and causation. (shrink)
The authors argue that the consciousness debate inhabits the same problem space today as it did in the 17th century. They attribute the lack of progress to a mindset still polarized by Descartes’ real distinction between mind and body, resulting in a standoff between humanistic and scientistic approaches. They suggest that consciousness can be adequately studied only by a multiplicity of disciplines so that the paramount problem is how to integrate diverse disciplinary perspectives into a coherent metatheory. Process philosophy is (...) well qualified to attempt such a synthesis. The rationale for the volume is summed up in the book's unifying thesis: normal, focal-attentive consciousness is not the sui generis phenomenon it is usually taken to be, but part of a wider spectrum of experience (including marginal, deviant, and non-human experience) that can only be studied by approaches as diverse as phenomenology, psycho- and neuropathology, biology, and zoology. (shrink)
Although Whitehead’s particular style of philosophizing--looking at traditional philosophical problems in light of recent scientific advances--was part of a trend that began with the scientific revolutions in the early 20th century and continues today, he was marginalized in 20th century philosophy because of his outspoken defense of what he was doing as “metaphysics.” Metaphysics, for Whitehead, is a cross-disciplinary hermeneutic responsible for coherently integrating the perspectives of the special sciences with one another and with everyday experience. The program of such (...) a meta-discipline is challenging to philosophical orthodoxy because it enlarges, rather than narrows, the range of empirical evidence that philosophy must acknowledge. This places Whitehead’s philosophy in a perennial tradition that seeks to resolve fundamental antinomies through synthesis and reconciliation rather than reduction or elimination. (shrink)